Tileswari Barua finally gets her place in history
Twelve-year-old Tileswari Barua, the country’s youngest martyr from Assam’s remote Dhekiajuli village, who took a bullet from the colonial police and died for the country, has finally got her place in history after eight decades.
About 150 km northwest of Guwahati, Dhekiajuli under Sonitpur district, was the worst scene of police brutality during the Quit India phase of the freedom movement in 1942. As several hundred Satyagrahis (protesters) had converged at the local police station on September 20, 1942 to raise the Tricolour following Gandhiji’s “Karenge ya Marenge” (do or die) call, the police rained bullets indiscriminately on the unarmed masses, killing at least 15 persons, including Tileswari.
Until February 2021, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi as part of his campaigning for the Assam assembly’s March-April election, visited Dhekiajuli and paid tributes to as many as 15 martyrs, their tale of supreme sacrifice have remained unrecognized and unheard of in the rest of the country. Equally heart-rending are the stories of martyrdom and sacrifice by Manbar Nath, Kumoli Devi, Mahiram Koch, Ratan Kachari, Sorunath Chutia, Maniram Kachari, Dayal Panika, Lerela Kachari, Khahuli Devi, Mangal Kurku, and other nameless persons, one of whom was a beggar, and the other a ‘sanyasi’ (monk).
The struggle story of Dhekiajuli has remained confined only to the state of Assam for a long time while insignificant and insufficient references are available in one or two books. It was only in February last year that the saga of Dhekiajuli came out in detail in a book called Dhekiajuli 1942: The Untold Story. Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap, a veteran Guwahati-based researcher, author and journalist and presently a State Information Commissioner of Assam, the book for the first time takes this hitherto forgotten history to the outside world.
After the publication of the book, the Dhekiajuli police station where the worst massacre during the Quit India movement took place, was also declared a heritage structure by the Assam government.